A general AmeriCorps “life hack”: if you’re going to spend money on something, always, always go to Google, and type in “free or cheap__________________ “!
- SAC Facebook Page: #SACHousing tag has available housing resources
- Live-in Nanny/Au Pair
- Rent a room from a staff member/friend
- Air BnB.com has housing vouchers for relocation of AmeriCorps members
- You may be eligible for food assistance with Washington’s SNAP Program (up to $200/month!) Keep in mind that food assistance also allows you to purchase seeds to grow your own food! Food assistance CANNOT be used for hot foods, restaurants, and alcohol purchases. You can use EBT cards at grocery & convenience stores, and some gas stations are even set up to accept EBT for food. Some deli stations at grocery stores will let you use EBT on a cold prepared sandwich or salad. Always ask. https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/community-services-offices/services-we-offer
- Farmer’s Markets: GREAT option for cheaper fruits & veggies, and there is a program in place (Fresh Bucks) that will DOUBLE any food assistance you receive. Some markets are year-round; some are only spring/summer/fall. http://seattlefarmersmarkets.org/programs-events/foodaccess
- Take advantage of happy hour pricing everywhere! Order appetizer platters with a group and split the cost.
- Always try to make your own meals or potluck if possible, especially on travel days /airport days! Bringing your own meals can save you a TON of money.
- Cash and Carry is where most restaurants buy food in bulk. Its open to the public, and great for going to get food to meal prep. You cannot use EBT there.
- Grocery Outlet has great deals on wine/beer
- Ibotta is a free app that you can scan you receipts and can be redeemed to paypal/venmo/giftcards.
- http://www.greaterseattleonthecheap.com/ is a great website that is updated often with free/cheap options. Keep an eye out on Facebook for early showings or preview shows, often cheaper. There are lots of festivals that offer free entry (though you might have to pay for food-bring your own if possible).
- Libraries often have free events, and some museums have free first Saturdays or Thursdays, as well as free entry.
- Some museums offer reduced price entry if you receive public assistance, and you can show your EBT (food assistance card).
- Hiking: Puget Sound has many amazing hikes that are free. Some places require a discovery pass ($10/day or $30 for the season). Be sure to check so you don’t get a ticket.
- Exploring: always look for deals and discount days! Pick things in the off season and you’ll often get good deals.
- Skagit Valley Tulip fields, Ferries to the islands, hiking in the I-90 corridor, wandering downtown, by pike market, or capitol hill, you will find many things to do.
- Try Groupon for amazing, fun experiences and split the cost.
- Use coupons.
- Always type in “__________ online coupon” when ordering things online.
- Take advantage of cheaper movie tickets by attending matinee showings.
- Making your own meals with lots of fruits and veggies keeps you healthy.
- Take the time to walk around the city. It’s healthy and free to explore.
- Hiking is a big deal in the PNW, go out and explore. If you need a hiking buddy, let me know!
- YMCA offers an income-based assistance program if you want to have a gym membership. You have to apply for the program and they need income proof and a letter of need, but it’s a great option. The membership allows you to attend classes and use the pool as well, and typically is valid at all locations. http://www.seattleymca.org/membership/financialassistance
- Planet Fitness offers gym memberships for $10+tax a month. They don’t have lots of bells/whistles, but if you are interested in some weights and cardio machines, you can’t get a better deal http://www.planetfitness.com/offers/1229?gclid=CMfrl6fE69UCFQyAfgodpi0B6A
- Take advantage of free health clinics in the city. Seattle is a great place to be for low cost healthcare.
- Learn what kind of coverage you have with Washington Apple Health, and go in for a screening. Your coverage COULD include dental check-ups, eye exams, and preventative care (flu shots, etc.) http://www.hca.wa.gov/free-or-low-cost-health-care/apple-health-medicaid-coverage
- Take advantage of programs like Open Path Collective. Open Path Collective http://openpathcollective.org/ is a collection of therapists that offer low cost therapy sessions, but they also offer mental health courses in everything from Communication Skills to Self Esteem and Anxiety for $5. http://mentalhealth.openpathcollective.org/
- Always take time for yourself; self-care is REALLY important during this year!
- King County has a great transportation system, and has a great resource for low income residents. It’s called Orca Lift. http://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/fares-orca/orca-cards/lift.aspx The already low cost of public transit is reduced 50% for busses, the Link Light Rail, Water Taxi and Streetcar (does not cover monorail or ferries).
- Carpool with friends to save money on gas.
- Use ridesharing (Uber and Lyft)
- Budget each month for parking in the city. It’s an expense that will happen, and it’s better to be prepared for it. Parking can be free, or it can cost $30. I budget $80 a month for city parking costs.
Other Money Saving Tips
- Free Tax Filing through United Way: https://www.uwkc.org/need-help/tax-help/
- Credit Reports are FREE (you should only pull every year or so, unless major changes) on this website. Click the red button. https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action
- Write a Budget: Cannot express how important this will be.
- Most credit cards have a points reward system for using them. Most cards either do scaling rewards (like 3% at restaurants, 2% at gas, 1% on everything) or just flat (1.5% on everything). However, it is very important to pay off your credit card balances quickly so your credit score doesn’t drop.
- Talk to a banker about opening a savings account. Auto transfer a small amount every month. Trust me, it helps to have a back-up plan.
- Car maintenance: Shop around, ask someone you trust to refer you to a mechanic, and always get your oil changed with coupons (or change it yourself!)
- Make your own things: Save money by using the internet to your advantage. There are lots of “life hacks” and things you can make for lower cost by using items found around your home.